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The Vimalakirti Experience, Part 4B – The Goddess

This is week four of an eight week collaboration between Michael Owens and Michael Taft. Each Sunday, Michael Owens will teach on a(t least one) chapter of the VNS. Then the following Thursday, Michael Taft will lead a guided meditation based on that chapter.

The nondual guided meditation lasts for one hour. Following that there is a dharma talk and Q&A session for about 30minutes.

Guided Meditation

0 – 15 min: Shamatha
15 – 30 min: Shamatha without an object (“dropping the ball”)
30 – 60 min: 30 – 60 min: Nondual compassion and equanimity, Goddess-style.

Quote from this Chapter

Śāriputra: Goddess, what prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state?

Goddess: Although I have sought my “female state” for these twelve years, I have not yet found it. Reverend Śāriputra, if a magician were to incarnate a woman by magic, would you ask her, “What prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state?”

Śāriputra: No! Such a woman would not really exist, so what would there be to transform?

Goddess: Just so, reverend Śāriputra, all things do not really exist. Now, would you think, “What prevents one whose nature is that of a magical incarnation from transforming herself out of her female state?”

Thereupon, the goddess employed her magical power to cause the elder Śāriputra to appear in her form and to cause herself to appear in his form. Then the goddess, transformed into Śāriputra, said to Śāriputra, transformed into a goddess, “Reverend Śāriputra, what prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state?”

And Śāriputra, transformed into the goddess, replied, “I no longer appear in the form of a male! My body has changed into the body of a woman! I do not know what to transform!”

The goddess continued, “If the elder could again change out of the female state, then all women could also change out of their female states. All women appear in the form of women in just the same way as the elder appears in the form of a woman. While they are not women in reality, they appear in the form of women. With this in mind, the Buddha said, ‘In all things, there is neither male nor female.’ ”

Then, the goddess released her magical power and each returned to their ordinary form. She then said to him, “Reverend Śāriputra, what have you done with your female form?”

Śāriputra: I neither made it nor did I change it.

Goddess: Just so, all things are neither made nor changed, and that they are not made and not changed, that is the teaching of the Buddha.

~ from The Teaching of Vimalakirti, translated by Robert Thurman

Read a bit about the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra

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